Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kriya Yoga or the Yoga of Action

tp> SvaXyayeñrài[xanain i³yayaeg>. 1.
II.1 tapaù svädhyäya Éçvarapraëidhänäni kriyäyogaù


austerity, fortitude, purifying action, training the senses, tempering
self-study in the context of teachings about the Self, study of scriptures
creative source, causal field, God, supreme Guru or teacher
practicing the presence, dedication, devotion, surrender of fruits of practice
yoga of practice, action, practical yoga

In the Yoga sutra different disciplines have been mentioned and many a times they are presented in groups. For example, Ashtanga Yoga (the Eight-fold Path). And under it, the Yamas & Niyamas. Kriya Yoga is another set of disciplines which are presented to us. These are three virtuous actions which are capable of reducing the Kleshas.

To start with we have to control all our physical actions. We consciously tell ourselves not to do certain things and as a result we gain strength. One of the examples is Mauna (maintaining silence). Then which is related to our thinking process. Here the suggestion is to think on some better matter. Just as for our progress in life, it is suggested we read some spiritual books and we constantly remind ourselves about more worthwhile things in life. If we do not do this, then useless and harmful things enter our mind. So far as feelings and emotions are concerned they should be directed towards God. In the Bhakti School they say that feelings are not wrong provided they are directed towards God. So there are suggestions on handling the three aspects of our personality. Wrong tendencies are corrected and diverted towards the right tendencies.

What is Kriya yoga and its objectives?

Tapa, (Fortitude), Svadhyaya (Self-study) and Ishwara Pranidhana (Surrendering to God) together constitute Kriya Yoga.  It is Yoga of practice. Sometimes Kriya Yoga can also be called Karma Yoga.
Tapa:  This is the chief weapon for beginners. It has been given an important place in literature where a student had to undergo some type of hardship or sacrifice; without this no development is possible. To come out of one's old habits, one has to have some pain, both physical and mental. The mental part being, when one wants to be emotionally involved, hold onto one's beliefs which are part and parcel of one's thinking process. We have to get rid of these, and get rid of old habits - thoughts, feelings, and external things. Tapa is like a fire, it burns things out like melting away our past. It can be a relaxing habit as you slowly get rid of old habits. 

Svadhyaya: Is the study of self. This can be achieved through listening to others, reflection,  scriptural study, reading philosophical literature and repeating  the mantra OM is also suggested. Observing the effects of Tapa discipline in oneself is part of Svadhyaya.

Ishwara Pranidhana:  All actions whether in religious or everyday life, are surrendered to a Higher Reality. Gita says, "I am not the actor at all, all this is God's own work". There are many quotations to bring out this spirit that one should constantly feel oneself as an instrument of a Higher Power, with no desires. The Gita says that whatever one does, be it charity, work etc, surrender it all to God. 

Its objective is to purify our physical actions, thoughts and feelings surrendering towards God.

Kriya Yoga is meant for what type of Yoga student?

Patanjali mentions three types of natures or personalities: mild, medium and intense. Students with moderate temperament in his efforts to progress in Yoga can take up Kriya Yoga.

Why does Patanjali mention Tapa, Svadhyaya and Ishwara Pranidhana as its ingredients, when they are also mentioned as part of the Niyamas in the Eight-fold Path?

Patanjali’s method is to develop gradually. Any type of activity, which puts strain on the body and mind, is forbidden. Once the system is disturbed so is its harmony. One then does not possess the right type of mind for progress. One must maintain fine balance of the inner situation. Yoga is for those who believe in moderation in diet, sleep, work, etc., and  not   for  those  who go to extremes. Bhikshu says that the Yamas & Niyamas are far wider and more comprehensive that these three (Fortitude, Self-study & Surrender to a Higher Reality) but are thought to be the best in that they are more powerful and are also able to bring about quick results.


This is an extract of:

YOGENDRA, Jayadeva.
Thoughts on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Yoga Institute, Santacruz. Mumbai. 2009.

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Please follow the links to know more about our YTT course 200 hours in 2012:

Yoga Teacher Training Course in Minas Gerais, Brazil
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Namaskar!! Om Shanti!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Attitude Training & Yoga

From the educational point of view Yoga techniques are pegs on which to hang a lot of our clothes. The traditionalists in Yoga recommended a combination of right feelings and right attitudes with certain selected physical activities. The physical activity is no doubt selected after full consideration of its psycho-physiological value but the activity is incomplete without the attitude.

If the activity is the right kind and the attitude also enriches one's consciousness, then the entire exercise is very satisfying and elevating.

The Yoga Institute of Santacruz, Mumbai - India (oldest organized Yoga center in the world) recommends the practices of Yoga asanas (postural training) associated with four major important groups of attitudes or feelings. These are based on scriptural authority and are known as Four Positive Bhavas of Buddhi in Shamkhya Philosophy and are as follows:

Dharma (Right Conduct & Duty)

Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Unlike the commonly believed connotation of "Religion" in India, the word Dharma means "Duty". At every point in life, one needs to understand what one’s duty is in that given situation, prioritise the tasks and then move ahead. It is believed that one who is always on the path of Dharma, is saved from all sorts of pains and sufferings, etc. In fact, Yoga even outlines a hierarchy of duties, one’s first duty is to the self, then family and friends, place of work, society and finally, humanity in general.

Often we tend to neglect this hierarchy, for example over-working without eating in time or eating wrong food, not resting sufficiently, or indulging into social work without looking after the family, etc. Neglecting this hierarchy, leads to several conflicts and problems at the intra and inter-personal level. The components of this Bhava are duty, discipline, conditioning, preparedness, acceptance, commitment and also the Yamas and Niyamas

All meditative asanas belong to Dharma Bhava.

Jnana (Knowledge or Right understanding)

Gomukhasana (Cow's Mouth Pose)
In Yoga, Jnana refers to Awareness and Knowledge. According to ancient Indian philosophy, all that one needs to know and understand for a meaningful life is actually present within. However, Maya or illusion keeps pulling us into the external world. We keep busy in the world outside looking for a purpose, some meaning. This leaves us confused and frustrated. Jnana in Yoga begins with awareness about self, at all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The components of this Bhava are concentration, one pointedness, balance, body awareness, co-ordination, synchronization, training of the senses and training of the breath.

Asanas for the extremities of the body, involving upward and sideward stretches, and asanas involving twist of the spinal cord belong to Jnana Bhava. All Pranayamas and Trataka kriya are also included in this Bhava.

Vairagya (Detachment & Letting Go)

Yoga Mudrasana (Symbol of Yoga Pose)  
Commonly understood as renunciation, this Bhava actually refers to detachment. For a householder, fulfilling his duties to family is very important and renunciation doesn’t necessarily take one to detachment. Vairagya actually leads a householder to a state of being ‘in the world but not of the world'. The components of this Bhava are objectivity, humility, reducing the ego, relaxation, ‘let-go’ attitude, detachment and surrender.

All the relaxation asanas, forward bending asanas and head-low postures have been classified under Vairagya.

Aishwarya (Will power & Self-Reliance)

Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
When one is truly on the path of the first three Bhavas, viz. Dharma, Jnana and Vairagya, the feeling of achievement, satisfaction, the knowledge yet being humble refers to as the Bhava of Aiswarya. All this adds great of confidence in one’s personality. In fact, the confidence that one may experience without the first three Bhavas, when analyzed carefully, is usually a superficial one which one puts up only as a show-off for others. This Bhava is difficult to understand theoretically, but is easier to experience through perseverance and faith. The components of Aiswarya are confidence, self-reliance, sense of achievement, effort, fortitude, freedom, strength, and forbearance.

All asanas involving backward bending of the spine and all the kriyas belong to this Bhava.

So.. the lesson here is that: only stretching, bending and twisting yourself in all possible directions will not bring about all the positive and wholesome benefits of Yoga, specially if you have a wrong frame of mind while doing it.


Wise Living Yoga Academy conducts Yoga Teacher Training Courses (200 hours) following the Methodology & Didactics of The Yoga Institute of Santacruz. The course is recognized by The International Board of Yoga - India and accredited by Yoga Alliance - USA (RYS-200 Level).

Please follow the links to know more about our YTT course 200 hours in 2012:

Yoga Teacher Training Course in Minas Gerais, Brazil
Yoga Teacher Training Course in Bali, Indonesia
Yoga Teacher Training Course in Chiang Mai, Thailand